My little one just turned 7 last week. I love birthday celebrations. During the winter break I have been thinking and asking Alex how we could celebrate his birthday: family trip to Legoland? Art and Drawing party with his friends? Roller-skate party? Bouncy house in the backyard? We went big and small, crazy and fun. We had so many ideas…and then the lockdown came.
We are in total and complete support of the #stayathome strategy to flatten the curve, reduce the spread of the virus and have less people sick. That being said, it’s not easy to explain to your kid that the so long planned birthday party will not happen. It was heartbreaking for me too!
Before I even approached him to discuss the party cancellation I decided to work on a plan B, so new, exciting and, hopefully, amazing that he would consider my plan B as great as the plan A.
My goal was to put together a plan of action to ensure that he would feel special and loved. We ended up having three days of family fun and I was considering that the plan can even work for a birthday after the quarantine, when we will be super happy to add “friends and extended family” in the plan with many physical hugs and kisses 🙂
Are you ready? That’s my Quarantine Birthday Party Plan 🙂
1. Divide the birthday celebration in multiple days. We started two days before the actual bday day. Every day there was some activity related to the birthday. He loved this idea as it expanded his birthday. On my side having every day a birthday-related activity gave me more leverage when asking him to help, do school, do chores 🙂 Win-win situation. We decided that the birthday celebration moment would be in the afternoon, right after lunch. Considering the weather that was also the warmest time of the day to spend outside in the backyard 🙂
2. Display all the gifts in a nice set-up. I was able to put together 9 gifts between what I could order online and what I had in the house. I wrapped them nicely and displayed them on the fireplace. I used any wrapping paper I could find (aka Christmas leftovers). It’s totally fine. Kids are very flexible and to be sincere he didn’t even notice the Santa Claus waiving from the paper 🙂 Displaying the presents was a huge huge success because it created expectation. We decided with him to open three presents every day.
3. Presents and Birthday Games. I created three games every day to play all together. Family games. At the end of each game there was a winner. The winner could pick up which present from the display Alex could open that day. The fun thing is that they enjoyed a lot the games and they have been asking to play them even after the birthday celebration days 🙂 Between playing the games, opening the presents and playing with the new presents the whole afternoon was organized and full of fun! The days were organized with morning school done without complaining thanks to the afternoon bday celebration expectation and the afternoon busy with the games/gifts. Dinner time arrived in a blink.
4. Birthday Games and Family Activities. Alex is 7 and Luca is 9 so I organized games that they both could play.
- Treasure Hunt in the backyard. Hide written riddles or hints around the backyard so that the kids will run from spot to spot to find the following hint. The trick to organize the treasure hunt is to start from the end and going backward hiding the paper hints/riddles. I used hiding places that I knew the kids would know like the trampoline, colored visible vases, the bbq, patio furniture or that had very visible colors (the bush with the red flowers, the vase you painted for mom last year, the dog favorite nap spot…). I was inspired by this website and I added more personalized details that I knew my kids would recognize.
- Alphabet Hunt. That was a fun one! I printed out Megan’s alphabet list design and we divided the family in two teams. The goal was to write as many things as possible starting with each alphabet letter in less time. Everything we could see outside in the backyard. The sky and the sun count too!! Tricky letters were the Y and the Z, but we made it!! Little ones can only say the word and the adult will write it down. For older kids it is a lovely spelling exercise too 🙂
- Color Hunt. The first hunt was a big success so we did another one switching the alphabet letters with the rainbow colors. Same game concept: find as many items as you can with one of the rainbow colors. And you can either give a set time to find the things or the first team who finds 2 items for each color wins.
- One minute Challenges: there are so many ideas on the internet!! We did the “pile the coins” (how many coins can you pile without making them fall in one minute?), the “count the pasta with a chopstick” (every kid has a chopstick. You give them a bowl of short shaped pasta, uncooked, like fusilli or penne, fusilli are easier! Easy game. You give them a second bowl and they need to move the pasta from one bowl to the other with the chopsticks. Difficult game. They need to pile the pasta on the table divided in number groups. First group only 1, second group 2 pieces of pasta, third group three pieces and you go up to 10. Everything in one minute. We also did the “cotton balls blowing”. Fun! On a table create a kind of obstacle course with toys, we used legos. Give a straw to each kid, we used the big silicone ones. Place a cotton ball at the beginning of the course. The kid has to blow through the straw to move the ball through the obstacle course without letting the ball fall from the table.
- Chalk Ninja Course. I really suggest this one, it takes a while to organize, but you can ask the kids to help and you will have an activity course for more than one day 🙂
- Hola Hoop Toss. Place a Hola Hoop on the grass and another one (or simply a stick) at a fair distance so that the kid can trow a bean bag (or any other non breakable object) in the center.
- Balloon Pop. Fun and appropriate for all ages. Have the kids pop a balloon simply sitting on it. Be careful and do it on the grass or on a soft surface (carpet or rug inside). Also, do it on the last day so that you will enjoy the balloons up until the end. Or…have the dog pop the balloon!!
I would suggest you to choose games following your kids’ age. There are so many inspirations online. For little ones I really suggest you to check my friend Amy at www.yummytoddlerfood.com
5. Birthday Menu’. I asked Alex to write down few recipes he wanted to enjoy for his bday celebration that mommy could prepare. We did it together as not every ingredient was available in the fridge/pantry. We draw together a beautiful menu that we attached to the fridge 🙂 That was another good hour of activity together. I prepared some of the recipes with him and that made it even more special and mainly the birthday cake.
6. Vanilla and Chocolate Birthday Cake. He decided the cake, I prepared the ingredients and he did the rest 🙂 Check out the video to see how easy it is to prepare it.
Basically, once you line up all the measured ingredients in front of you, you simply need to mix the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt) and set them apart.
Then mix the wet ingredients in the following order: eggs + sugar, coconut oil, yogurt, vanilla paste. Combine slowly the wet ingredients with the dry ones.
Add the chocolate chips.
Bake in preheated oven to 400F for 45 minutes. Let it rest and decorate as you like. We did a very simple and yet lovely design with some fruit and all the candles I was able to find in the drawers 🙂
7. Birthday Morning Breakfast. The day of his birthday we decorated our breakfast table with homemade garlands and the balloons I had. I also had fund with the breakfast presentation and when he woke up his smile was huge!!!
8. Video Birthday Wishes from Family and Friends. The one thing I was not able to replicate was of course the presence of his extended family and friends. Technology came to the rescue. The whole day we had calls or videos with loved ones via Skype/Zoom/Botim/Facetime…
9. Drive By Bday Wishes. We also received a wonderful surprise from one of his friend. The family drove by our place with the car full of balloons and a big poster with “Happy Birthday Alex” hanging out. They stopped on the curbside and, keeping a safe distance, the two friends could chat for a while, one in the car and the other one on the front yard. Sooo sweet!
10. Birthday Dinner. Of course we celebrated with the family at dinner, cooking his favorite dishes and singing Happy Birthday with candles and music. That didn’t change with the quarantine 🙂
How was the overall experience? Luckily he saw it with kid’s eyes. Longer celebration, new things to do, full of excitement. He was happy and he really enjoyed it. On my side I learned that sometimes as adults we really need to see things again through the kids’ eyes. I’m not hiding to you that I was sad while I was preparing his birthday as I knew it was not as anticipated and planned. But when I saw his face of excitement (and his brother’s one too as we were all involved) I understood that it’s important to appreciate what we have more than what we want to have. And having the family together, safe and well, enjoying time together is the best thing I could ask for. So, if you ask me and him, it was an exceptionally fun birthday!
Other ideas for you to consider…
- At-home-restaurant. Setting your family meal or snack in a different place. It can be the patio, the back or front yard, the balcony, even the coffee table set up as dining table and everyone sitting on a pillow!
- If you love camping, set up a tent in the backyard or in your family room! You can use it a reading nook 🙂
- Dress-up. But not only the kids! Let your kid decide how everyone has to dress-up on her/his special day!
- Build a fort. Indoor, with blankets, sheets or anything that can transform your couch or dining table into the coolest fort ever!
- Dance Party. Invite the whole family to dress up with a theme (superheroes, animals, prince and princesses…) and play your favorite music dancing together.
Do you have other ideas? Please share them here below. The more the better. And most important thing…HAPPY BIRTHDAY to ALL THE BDAY BOYS AND GIRLS!!!
- 260 gr. Plain Greek Yogurt
- 260 gr. All Purpose flour
- 130 gr. cane sugar
- 3 medium eggs
- 100 ml coconut oil or butter
- 1 Tbsp vanilla paste or 1 vanilla stick, beans removed
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips
- 5 grapes
- 5 strawberries
Preheat the oven to 400F
In a bowl add the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, bakign soda, salt. Mix and set apart
In a bigger bowl add the eggs and the sugar. Whisk for 1 min to combine well.
Add the coconut oil, yogurt and vanilla. Combine well.
Slowly add the dry mix into the wet one.
Last, add the chocolate chips.
Transfer the batter in a cake pan. I used a traditional round shape 10inch cake pan.
Bake in the oven to 400F for 45 minutes.
Let the cake cool down completely and start the decoration.
Slice some fruit, I used strawberries and grapes and have fun with any easy decoration. Use any candle you can find in the house 🙂